Eating to Reduce Post-Workout Soreness | STACK

Eating to Reduce Post-Workout Soreness

May 13, 2012

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During your peak preseason training, you might be performing high-impact exercises and workouts twice a day, leaving your body feeling fatigued and sore. During these weeks, your body will suffer from the wear and tear of intense, everyday workouts, thwarting your best performance.

What you eat before during and after workouts can greatly reduce post-workout soreness. By eating correctly, you'll decrease the muscle degradation caused by intense exercise and maximize post-workout muscle repair and rebuilding. Eating the right foods can also decrease inflammation, another source of muscle soreness.

Before Your Workout

Make sure to have adequate carbohydrates and protein to top off your energy stores. The best pre-workout meals have carbohydrates and some protein to promote greater muscular endurance, provide energy and help speed recovery. Post-workout soreness can also be caused by dehydration and lack of electrolytes, so start your workout hydrated by drinking at least 20 ounces of water in the hour before you train.

During Your Workout

If you are working out for an hour or more, consume a high-glycemic carbohydrate source, such as a sports drink or gel, to provide electrolytes and glucose. Adding protein can further minimize muscle tissue damage. Again, stay properly hydrated, drinking at least 14 to 16 ounces of water for each active hour.

Following a Workout

The 45-minute window following an intense workout is when your body is most sensitive to insulin, which helps build muscle. A common myth says that protein is most important post-workout, but you also need carbohydrates to help produce insulin, drive muscle building and reduce post-workout soreness. The current recommendation is a ratio of 2:1 carbohydrate to protein following strength workouts and 4:1 after endurance workouts. Aim for higher-glycemic carbs, like sports drinks, granola bars, cereal or crackers. They are digested faster and are replete with muscle and liver glycogen.

The Power of Antioxidants

Foods rich in antioxidants also help reduce inflammation and decrease muscle soreness. Various studies have shown the positive effects on exercice recovery of tart cherries due to their high antioxidant properties. Ginger and turmeric are other foods high in antioxidants.


Practice your pre/post-workout fueling routines and tweak them as necessary. Be comfortable with your fueling choices. Also, remember to consult with a health professional if you feel your soreness might be signaling an injury.

Make sure to check out the STACK Post-Workout Nutrition Guide for further information.


Source: "Train to Manage Pain: How the Foods We Eat Can Optimize
 Exercise Recovery." Leslie Bonci, Kerry Kuehl, Leanna Shear.

Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
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